Officials warn of foreclosure scams | NevadaAppeal.com

Officials warn of foreclosure scams

Staff report

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller are warning all Nevadans to beware of fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes.

Recent reports place Nevada first in the nation in number of foreclosures. This has led to an increase in the number of foreclosure scams reported to law enforcement authorities.

Some companies that appear to offer foreclosure relief will require consumers to sign contracts which involve turning ownership of a home over to the foreclosure-relief company and leasing the home back to the consumer with a buy-back option at some future date.

Many companies prey on consumers’ fears of losing their homes. Many of these schemes are designed to fail so that consumers will lose their homes to the foreclosure-rescue company.

“Unfortunately, home foreclosures are on the rise in Nevada, and that has given scam artists fertile ground for cheating those desperate to keep their homes,” said Cortez Masto.

“If you are facing foreclosure, I encourage you to talk with your mortgage lender before accepting help from an outside party.”

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An example of one scam known to be operating in Nevada is: the perpetrator solicits victims directly through the mail with promises to save homeowners from foreclosure by saving their credit and negotiating directly with their lenders.

The perpetrator will offer to buy the house for the total amount owed on it, plus some small amount of cash. The perpetrator will require the victim to sign a deed, a transfer tax form and a contract of sale. The deed provides that the seller is selling the house to a corporation. The perpetrator pays the cash to the victim and assures him or her he will take care of paying off any mortgages on the home.

After the victim moves out of the house, the perpetrator rents the house, does not pay the mortgages, and the house goes into foreclosure. The perpetrator can continue to collect rent until the foreclosure process is completed. The victim collects none of the rent, and, once foreclosure is done, the renters are evicted.

Anyone with information about a scam with these characteristics should contact the Secretary of State’s office in Las Vegas at (702) 486-2440.

“In the current market, there are a lot of people who, for various reasons, may want or need to sell their homes. When that need to sell becomes desperation, homeowners become lucrative targets for scammers. If it’s not something that’s within the jurisdiction of my office, we’ll find the appropriate agency to deal with it,” Miller said.

Masto and Miller encourage homeowners facing foreclosure to become informed of all their options. Consumers must talk to their lenders immediately if they are having problems meeting mortgage payments.

Any delay in communicating with your lender will only make the problem worse. Assistance is available from licensed debt credit counselors, government agencies, and legal services. Only seek advice from qualified professionals who do not have a personal interest in your decision.

Consumers may contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection about home foreclosure “rescue” scams at 684-1180 in Carson City or (702) 486-3194 in Las Vegas.

A complaint form, as well as other valuable information on consumer protection, also is on the attorney general’s Web site at http://www.ag.state.nv.us.